The first book on my list has actually been recommended to me like multiple times over the years of me doing BookTube.

I found that sentence in my English book, and the last part where it reads of me doing BookTube confuses me terribly. Shouldn't the object of a preposition be a noun or pronoun, not a verb? How can verbs be nouns?

The book translated the phrase into "while/when I am doing Booktube" and so I understand what it seems to be intended to mean here.

Could it perhaps be that there are some words omitted from the full sentence that if I knew what these unwritten words were, I would then be able to understand its syntactic structure more clearly? Did it skip writing the words "when/while I am" there? Why would the subject "I" turn into "me"? Is that still the verb's subject or did changing it that way now make it the verb's object? Why would all those words go missing? It is very confusing.

If this is actually a valid type of English syntax used by native speakers that nobody ever taught me, could you please give me some similar examples so that I can understand its exact meaning and grammatical structure?

Why aren't we taught this syntax if it is actually used in real English?

  • 4
    Compare: "This is a picture of John scuba-diving in Cancun" and "This is a picture of him scuba-diving in Mexico." Now think about what personal pronoun you would use if you were the one doing the scuba-diving.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


Let's say it's not textbook English, it's informal language. The level of language is actually also indicated by the use of like in "like multiple times".

No words are missing here but, for English grammar purists, the correct structure would actually be "over the years of my doing BookTube". The verb here, with its gerund form, is used as a noun and should therefore be used with a possessive pronoun.

So it's not really correct but usage makes it acceptable in informal contexts.

It would be grammatically correct in the following sentence "Here's a picture of me doing BookTube". In this case:

  • "me" is not the subject of "doing", it's the object in the first part of the sentence (Here's a picture of me)
  • there is a kind of ellipsis and you could rephrase it as "here's a picture of me while I was doing BookTube"
  • 1
    It is not true that it is not correct. This is a myth. The subject of a gerund clause can be in the unmarked form or the possessive form. It is normally in unmarked form as written here, which for pronouns is the object form as that's the default case for pronouns in English.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 20:50
  • Agree to disagree :) Many grammar books (textbook English as I put it) would qualify the example here as incorrect. Grammarian HW Fowler called it "fused participle" and decried its use. Yet, as mentioned in my answer, over the years usage has made it ok, though it's more informal. So let's say "me" or "my" can both be used but not in the same language register. @tchrist is that clearer / "more correct"? Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 21:39
  • Please see the linked duplicates, particularly John Lawler’s answers there, and then check his bio. He’s more known professionally for his work in negative polarity items, but you could easily find a less “citable” authority than him. [Just please don't say than he :]
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 21:39

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